Directed (again) and Co-Written (again) by Roland Emmerich
A mysterious object is shot down on the moon on the anniversary of the original alien invasion. Turns out it is not a second coming but a warning that arrives just a little bit too late and now humanity must once again defeat the alien menace.
I will admit it. I enjoyed this movie. Somehow I do. It is not a perfect film, but it is not as bad as people are saying. I think its major drawback is that it is a sequel nobody really asked for nor really expected. Independence Day was not a film people were begging for more off. The story had been nicely and succinctly wrapped in the first film and there was no indication or potential for more after that. No ominous actions by the aliens that the characters could not know about but the audience sees. Nothing.
I do recall either Dean Devlin or Rolland Emmerich joking around at the time the original came out and it was an obvious success that maybe the aliens had cousins out there but I don’t think it was serious. They were just yanking the interviewer’s chain, but I guess at some point Dean Devlin or Rolland Emmerich started taking what they said seriously.
They do make the action and to an extent the cast a little more international with the addition of Charlotte Gainsbourg as Dr. Catherine Marceaux-a French psychologist studying the aftereffects of the aliens, Angelababy as Rain Lao who is a Chinese lieutenant in the Earth Space Defense Force and Deobia Oparei as Dikembe Umbutu who is the ruler of an African nation that was the only place on Earth where the aliens had landed during the original invasion.
Liam Hemsworth (Jake Morrison-a pilot of the Earth Space Defense), William Fichtner (Gen. Joshua T. Adams-commander Area 51), and Sela Ward (President Elizabeth Lanford) round out the significant newcomers.
Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson), Bill Pullman (Thomas J. Whitmore), Judd Hirsch (Julius Levinson), Brent Spiner (Dr. Brackish Okun), and Vivica A. Fox (Dr. Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller) all return to their respective roles. The most useless return in my opinion is Vivica A. Fox. Her character returns just to die. She really does not do more than that.
Maika Monroe takes over from Mae Whitman as Patricia Whitmore for some reason that escapes me. Mae Whitman who originally played Patricia Whitmore is still active. At least she was at the time of the movie. Why not let her return? She has been a lead actress at times since this movie. I think she could handle it. Jessie Usher takes over as Dylan Hiller from Ross Bagley who I believe has been retired from show business. His recasting is understandable.
I am not sure why the president’s daughter had to be paired with Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth). It would have been more logical to pair Patricia Whitmore with Dylan Hiller. As characters they had a shared history. It would have at least provided a basis for them to draw on for the deep romance that Jake and Patricia were supposed to have. I say that sarcastically because the romance between Jake and Patricia has slightly less depth than a romance from Star Wars. I love Star Wars, but George Lucas did not have the ability to craft a sophisticated romance. It does not take away from those movies so let’s move on.
Or if not Dylan then why couldn’t Jake be one of the Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) children instead? He did have a son in the first movie. Can somebody explain that to me since they were not going with the children picking up the roles as adults, they could have recast him. Instead they shoehorn in a new character and pair him an old character and together they have all the electricity of a dead car battery.
Earlier I called Sela Ward’s character significant but that is a bit of a stretch. President Lanford does nothing but give a speech. She directs none of the response. That is it. Gen. Adams does more for the outcome of the film than this Commander in Chief. Her character was prominent deadweight. They wasted a good actress.
Another thing is you would think the government would have learned from the time of the first movie and not put everyone in one place during an alien invasion. The moment a giant spaceship shows up you scatter the federal leadership. In the first film everyone was wiped out in Cheyenne Mountain leaving the president the only federal government official left. In this movie the government sends the entire presidential line of succession and president as well to Area 51 which the aliens promptly wipe out leaving Gen. Adams as leader of the country. For the purposes of the story he was a renamed President Whitmore from the first film. Both characters were mostly the same.
The action is good, and they do manage to up the level of destruction in this movie even if it’s just the devastation of London and Paris. If they had done another movie, I’m not sure where they would have gone with wiping out iconic locations or monuments.
The story is a good story. It has some twists and turns and benefits largely from the events that take place with the African warlord in his nation. Here they expanded upon the mythology of the first film without altering it. We learned in this movie that one ship had managed to land and began drilling towards the earth’s core and after the defeat of the mothership those surviving Aliens had engaged in a guerrilla war with the humans.
By the time the end credits rolled, I wanted this movie to be successful for more stories. While I don’t feel the original needed a sequel, this set up some nice material for a sequel but because it didn’t do well we will never get to see that. The humans defeating the STILL unnamed threat so impressed the big white ball from the moon that it offered up interstellar travel technology. Interstellar travel in the present day is not too often done and almost never involves epic space battles which this promised but alas we will never see it. D**N IT!!
On the other hand, I’m also glad it didn’t do well because if it had it would’ve led to a reboot of a franchise that I greatly enjoy-Stargate. Supposedly if this film had been a success, they would have rebooted Stargate and so much has been built upon since the first film that they would toss out. I do not think it would be worth watching.
It is not a bad movie but it wasn’t something anybody begged for. People were happy with it being left alone but then they decided to bring it back and now there is so much left unanswered and that really annoys me. If a film finished the story let it be. Do not try to give it a sequel. Not every film is made for a sequel.
The movie is worth a watch but go into it knowing that everything they set up for the assumed next film that never happened will never be answered and you will never see it even though it looked to be something good.